These visions seem to tie God’s plan all together as the people are returning from exile. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of this day when his prophecy declared the people would return after seventy years in Babylon captivity. God’s promise all those years ago was finally being fulfilled.
God wants his people to know that he still cares for them. He said, “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.” How does it make you feel to be “God’s precious possession?”
What are you waiting on right now? Maybe it’s news from the doctor on a test. Maybe it’s a box of goodies in the mail. Maybe it’s that vacation you just booked. We all share in the wait for Jesus’ return, and James calls it out plain as day in this text. Are you feeling patient today? James said, “Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
James has us think about farmers. Think of the patience it requires to plant seeds every spring and then wait. Wait to see if the seeds sprout like they’re supposed to. Wait to see if the rains come at just the right time. Wait for storms to pass so you can assess the damage. Wait for the crops to be ready for harvest. That’s a lot of waiting. But farmers accept the wait. They know it’s all part of the plan.
Imagine Paul just prayed this prayer for you. Paul was asking God to provide these things for his friends. Even if Paul didn’t particularly have you in mind, all these years later let me direct this prayer to you. I’ll use Paul’s words because they are just that good. And timely.
Am I the only one that feels overwhelmed when I turn on the news? I’ve started getting my news from a Christian source that has already sifted through all the noise of the media to pick the stories that seem to be most fact-filled. As a writer, it’s hard to admit that other writers (journalists) are seemingly being manipulated by society to write with a certain slant or bias. Have you noticed that the same stories sound different depending on who is telling the story?
I was just thinking today about how many things had to fall into place to put Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem at the right time. When Micah declared these words, did he realize he was predicting the birthplace of the Messiah hundreds of years later? What a marvelous orchestrator God is! How can we ever doubt him!
The promised eternal king in David’s line would come to live as a man. He will “stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.” This prophecy was referred to by Herod’s advisors when he was greeted by the wise men of the east after Jesus’ birth. This small, obscure little town has made history and will forever have a place on the map!
I have the song “Comfort Ye My People,” from “The Messiah,” running through my head now. While this is a tenor solo, and I was an alto, I treasure precious memories of singing with my dad in our church choir growing up. Handel’s Messiah has a special place in my heart. The words of Isaiah in this passage are clearly the inspiration for that musical selection!
How do these words speak to you today wearing your “Advent Lenses”? We probably recognize the “someone” shouting in the wilderness, to be John, centuries later from when these words were written. “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD!” I’d like to think that we, too, can be messengers trying to clear through the “gunk” in this world to make a way for Jesus to be known.